From colonial past to New Zealand classroom : the biographical narrative of Will Potter, commercial secondary school teacher (1958-1976) : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education at Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand

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Massey University
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This thesis tells the teaching story of one post-primary Commerce teacher, Will Potter—my father. Will taught in five New Zealand post-primary schools from 1958 until his retirement in 1976. This case study of Will looks at what makes his story unique: he was an immigrant of Dutch descent, whose first language was not English and who came to teaching without qualifications at age 51, and went on to write Commerce textbooks. He also began teaching at a significant time in New Zealand post-primary education—the 1950s, with rising school rolls and lack of teachers and facilities. This qualitative study of Will involved document analysis of his memoir, letters, and papers, a focus group discussion with Will’s three other children, and semi-structured interviews with people who taught with or were taught by Will. Four research questions guided the study, and sociocultural–historical theory was used as a framework to reveal the complexity of his personal, interpersonal, and wider contextual teaching story. Two major backdrop influences are revealed about Will’s life: his colonial background in what was the Netherlands East Indies (NEI; now Indonesia) and his internment in Japanese concentration camps during World War II (WWII). Reasons are provided for his decision to go teaching, and his pedagogical approaches are described. Of particular note is his storytelling, mainly of his internment experiences. He wrote eleven Commerce textbooks that were used in New Zealand post-primary and tertiary settings, as well as overseas. This story will add to the store of New Zealand teacher stories as well as contribute to the social history of the Dutch who were forced to leave the NEI post WWII.
Potter, Will, 1906-1993, Biography, Teachers, New Zealand, Immigrants, Dutch, Education, Secondary, Commerce, Study and teaching (Secondary), History, 20th century